Thinking outside the box

GVSU students participate in Cardboard Challenge

By Carly Simpson | 2/23/14 7:57pm

Junior Ali McEldowney (right) constructed a game as part of Professor Kilbourne’s LIB100 Class’ project to take on the Cardboard Challenge; here she is shown watching another student play her game. GVL / Hannah Mico.

The atrium in Henry Hall was transformed into an arcade on Friday with more than 20 different games ranging from Laker Putt-Putt to Space Plinko. The only catch: the games were constructed with cardboard.

The idea for the Cardboard Challenge was inspired by the short film “Caine’s Arcade.” Caine Monroy, 9, lives in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. In 2012, he built a cardboard arcade outside of his father’s auto-parts store. His first customer, Nirvan Mullick, made the film that today has more than four million views.

The success of the film led to the creation of the Imagination Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to develop creativity and entrepreneurship in children and sponsors an annual Global Cardboard Challenge.

The challenge was brought to Grand Valley State University in October by movement science professor John Kilbourne and his wife Elizabeth Kilbourne, a liberal studies professor at GVSU.

“It shows how important creativity is at all ages,” John said. “It’s wonderful to see the camaraderie in this class. Part of a Lib 100 class is to learn to work together with diverse people and ideas.”

Students worked in teams to create the arcade games using cardboard and recycled materials.

“It’s a different way of learning,” GVSU student Sara Kauffman said. “Instead of being stationary and looking at a board, we’re moving around and actually interacting with our classmates.”

The Children’s Enrichment Center was invited to participate in the event, as were students and faculty at GVSU. “Fun passes” were sold for $1 and allowed participants to play an unlimited number of games. The money from the event is being donated to the Imagination Foundation.

“This is the first time in years I’ve got to play with paint and be really open minded and creative in a class,” student Joy Mullins said. “The project reminded us how much fun we had as kids.”

In the workplace, limiting creativity can be a problem, John said. It is no longer a suggested skill; instead the marketplace demands it.

“Creativity is now a really important concept in higher education,” he said. “Careers and employers are looking for students who aren’t afraid of failure or risk and who can work with others they don’t know. Creativity is incredibly important.”

In “The 10 Skills That Will Get You Hired in 2013” published in Forbes Magazine, critical thinking and complex problem solving are listed as the top traits graduates should possess.

Creativity is the the building block for those skills, said John, and it’s important for students to practice it both in and out of class.

During the Global Cardboard Challenge there were participants from more than 70 countries, and more than one million kids were involved. After the success of the event during the fall semester John decided to host a second Cardboard Challenge.

Students in Lib 100: Intro to Liberal Education and Lib 310: Creativity, along with those in the Movement Science House Living and Learning Center, participated in the event.

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